In 5th District, voters pan negative ads

Al Sechiavone had a message for the two candidates running for Congress in Connecticut’s 5th district on their last day of campaigning before the election: Behave.

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Sam Caligiuri greeets a voter outside a Waterbury supermarket (Jacqueline Rabe)

The 88-year old, longtime resident of Waterbury told Republican state Sen. Sam Caligiuri, who was standing outside a local grocery store greeting customers, “I will tell your opponent the same thing, behave yourself. Why the need for all these negative ads?”

Across town at a manufacturing factory, workers on their lunch break were asking Democratic incumbent Chris Murphy the same question.

“We are trying to focus a lot more on the positive stuff than the negative,” Murphy responded, criticizing the attack advertisement that has been aired against him by an outside group accusing him of supporting Viagra for convicted sex offenders.

Standing outside the grocery store, Caligiuri also wanted to make sure voters had the right impression of him as they head to the polls tomorrow to vote.

As person after person walking by greeted Caligiuri with, “I know who you are,” Caligiuri several times responded, “Yeah, but from the good advertisement or the bad advertisement? If it’s the bad ad then I have some explaining to do.”

Caligiuri is particularly upset with an advertisement aired by Murphy accusing him of currying favor with the former mayor of Waterbury when the ex-mayor was facing child sex charges.

“I think that commercial made a lot of people here in Waterbury upset,” Caligiuri said. “Using a dark chapter in this city’s history for political gain that people know is an outright lie I think will hurt him.”

Once voters had a chance to vent their frustration with the bombardment by negative advertising, the conversation quickly shifted to jobs and the economy.

“We need more work. Every time a contract is awarded to a company overseas, that’s less work for us,” Charlie Essex, the plant manager of Ansonia Copper and Brass in Waterbury, told Murphy. “I am worried about my job being here next year.”

With almost one out of every ten workers unemployed in the state, both Caligiuri and Murphy were pitching their recovery plans to the voters on the eve of the election.

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Chris Murphy talks with workers on break at a Waterbury factory (Jacqueline Rabe)

“We can’t hand the keys of this economy back to those who put it into the ground in the first place,” Murphy said, blaming Republicans for the economic mess. “Requiring that our government buy from American companies is the number one way to protect and create manufacturing jobs now.”

But Caligiuri disagrees with Murphy’s “Buy American” proposal.

“That’s a good way to launch a trade war with other countries and lose even more jobs,” he said. “But if you watch [Murphy’s] commercials, he would have you believe I support sending job overseas. That’s just not true. We just disagree how to keep those jobs here.”

Caligiuri said the best way to create and preserve jobs in the 5th District is to cut the “burdensome” taxes that small businesses must pay.

The 5th District contest one of the state’s tightest Congressional races, and both Murphy and Caligiuri said they believe it’s going to believe it’s going to be close.

A poll released today by Merriman River Group for CT Capitol Report has Caligiuri beating Murphy by 7.7 percent points. Last election, Murphy won by 20 percentage points.

“Last election was not the norm, we are not taking anything for granted,” Murphy said.